Unfortunately, it took Elmore a little bit of time to put Swag up to running speed. It's both a Frank Ryan and an Ernest Stickley novel (frank and ernest...get it?), but it does neither any justice, and that's a sad deal.
Stick is a great character. He treads that line between loathsome and respectable so well. We sort of like him, but we can't ever truly get behind him. This novel really exposes Stick as a pragmatist. Ryan's kind of a jerk ass.
All of that said, I think Elmore wrote a batch of short stories and then threw them together and called it a novel. This thing takes 200 pages to get rolling, with most of the chapters reading like 'how-to' manuals on knocking over grocery stores.
It's a diversion. If you read it, don't expect a hell of a lot.
I say that with the greatest respect for one of my generation's best writers. Elmore is absolutely the man. His work is awesome, except for the times when it's not.
Here's a song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mULa8WxTa4